Rev. Father Guiseppe Iasso of Mercogliano, Italy who has contributed immensely to the building of communal and religious harmony, and assisting the poor in Sri Lanka was felicitated by President Mahinda Rajapaksa at Temple Trees today (18).
Rev. Fr. Iasso whose association with Sri Lanka began in 1982 has carried out special community related work in Sri Lanka after the 1983 riots and tsunami of 2004. After the events of 1983, he built the model village ‘Samagigama’ in Nawalapitiya that housed 60 families with 15 each from the different religious communities.
He also built a vocational training centre for youth at Nawalapitiya which is certified by the Tertiary and Vocational Education Commission and City Guilds – London and therefore has international recognition.
In the post-tsunami situation, Rev. Fr. Iasso initiated the construction of 100 houses in a special village ‘Samidugama’ at Iranawila, Chilaw for tsunami victims. 75 of these houses are now complete. From 2003 he has also arranged for annual scholarships for deserving students in Sri Lanka – 395 of such scholarships have been awarded with donations from Italy. He has also done considerable work for sanitation and improvement of health condition in Kandy and plantation areas.
President Rajapaksa said that Rev. Fr. Iasso is a true friend of Sri Lanka. From 1983 he has paid special attention to the needs of the people in Sri Lanka especially the building of communal amity and thereby contributing to the emergence of peace. This is being greatly valued. Similarly, the initiatives taken by him to help children in the field of education especially through scholarships also deserved unstinted appreciation.
The work he has done for Sri Lanka irrespective of religious and communal differences has won him the gratitude of our people. President also said that the policy of his government was to combine religious cooperation together with development and also provide maximum opportunities for education to the people. He wished Rev. Fr. Iasso long life and all blessings for good health.
Rev. Fr. Iasso who appreciated the recognition and honour bestowed on him by the President, said Sri Lanka was an island of peace. He was aware of development and solidarity and was always keen to promote these values in Sri Lanka. He never expected recompense with such recognition as today for the work he had done. However, this would further encourage him in doing more for Sri Lanka. He said the Jesuit community and the Catholic Church had assisted him very much in his work for the people of Sri Lanka and he looked forward to continuing the work for peace in the country.
His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo, Bishops Vianney Fernando of Kandy and Valence Mendis of Chilaw were present together with Ministers Johnston Fernando, Minister Jeewan Kumaratunga, Felix Perera, Deputy Ministers Neomal Perera, Dayashritha Thisera and MP Sudarshani Fernandopulle.